19 Feb 2020

More people than ever before are choosing to work longer, with a growing number of the UK’s workforce keen to take the next step in their career, boost their skills or start their own business from the age of 55.

Research by Aviva reveals that nearly one in five workers aged between 55 and 59 years are planning to change jobs to progress their career. That figure drops among workers aged 60 to 64, but even then, nearly one in 10 said they were planning to move jobs in the coming 12 months.

More than a third (37%) of 55- to 59-year-olds said they were planning to take advantage of training offered by their employer to learn new skills, while 19% were either starting or continuing a qualification or course to boost their workplace skills.

However, research by LinkedIn has shown that many workers in the UK believe age is the ‘number one barrier’ when looking for a new job. Nearly half (45%) of those aged 55 to 65 thought their age was a barrier to progressing their careers.

This idea of age being a hindrance in the workplace could also explain why one in 10 55 to 59-year-olds responding to the Aviva survey said they were planning to launch their own business.

Whether we’re talking about ‘grey entrepreneurs’ or older workers seeking new opportunities, it’s hard to ignore the fact that over 50s fuelled 90% of employment growth in the past year. Employers who fail to adjust to the ageing workforce could face skills shortfalls.

Speaking about this, Jackie Pinfold, Business Consultant at Stopgap explains the strengths over 55s can bring to a business: “As an older employee, you don’t just bring your own speciality, but a fuller accumulated experience across many areas of business. For example, as well as marketing expertise you may also offer finance, HR and people management skills.

“The result is someone who has terrific context in which to do their job and an added dimension of understanding colleagues' priorities.”

But are some sectors more open to hiring older employees than others? Christine Ebeling-Long, Lead Consultant and Relationship Manager at Stopgap doesn’t think so.  

“Employers are generally looking for people who can hit the ground running – irrespective of their age, not someone they need to train from scratch so sector experience is usually an advantage,” she explains. “Generally speaking when recruiting for senior marketing roles fashion companies want fashion experience, travel want travel, FMCG want FMCG. In fact, I can’t think of many sectors that are proactively open to recruiting someone outside their sector unless they are looking for a specialist.”

Sometimes a few grey hairs are appreciated in business, but there’s no harm in older job seekers making themselves as desirable as possible to employers.

Jackie highlights ways over 50s can give themselves a head start when looking for a new role. First on the list is keeping up with what’s happening around them. Reading, using and getting to know relevant tech, talking to other industry people, and nurturing your desire to learn.

She continues: “Having an open mind and respecting those around you is also key. As is staying healthy so you have the energy as well as the desire and ability to deliver something special when you get to your 50s.”

Regardless of age, anyone looking to progress their career can do so by having the energy, the right attitude, and the ability to motivate those coming up behind.

Get that right and you’ve got the lot!

For help progressing your career get in touch with Jackie, Christine or one of the team at Stopgap today.

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